Monday, November 9, 2009


v. 1. To make a firm decision about
2. To find a solution to; solve

n. 1. Firmness of purpose, resolution
2. A determination or decision; a fixed purpose

In this post, I shared with you my realization that I'd been in denial. I pretty much outed myself as a person who hadn't been dealing with myself honestly and was wearing the results on my body in the form of extra pounds and flabby muscles.

Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how we make changes in our lives, the myth of willpower, and the reasons we don't live up to our commitments to ourselves.

I've concluded a few startling things: Changes we don't believe will make a difference or have any bearing on the way we live our lives. The short explanation: We don't really believe it matters in any meaningful way. "No willpower" is what we say when what we really mean is, "I haven't been convinced it matters". The broken vows don't count because we were making commitments about things we didn't believe in.

Think about it for a minute. Roll it around in your head: You don't make the changes you talk about because you don't believe they matter.

Here's an example from my sister (who, I'm certain, will be thrilled to read about her own life here!). My sister has struggled to keep on top of her laundry. Seriously struggled. She and her husband live alone - just the two of them - and she can't keep up on her laundry (or so she tells me). She makes the effort to get into a rhythm but she doesn't really stick to it and soon she's dealing with piles of laundry in various states: dirty, needing to be folded, needing to be put away. Why? Because she really doesn't believe that having her laundry done will make any meaningful difference in her life. Even more shocking? It might not! I don't live with her...I don't know how laundry is affecting her life. Regardless, until she truly believes that doing laundry matters and will positively impact the quality of her life, the laundry-dance will be one she does regularly.

Does that make sense to you? Think of all the things you say you should be doing and how many times you've promised yourself you would start doing them, only to fall out of the habit almost as quickly as you decided to incorporate it into your life.

Remember my failed attempt to have our family go 30 days without Fast Food? Since then, I've continued to educate myself, continued to commit to paying off debt and spending wisely and the Fast Food habit has disappeared--all without willpower or recriminations. Why? Because it became easy: I truly believed it was bad for us and bad for our budgets and so believing, I had no problem just not heading out in the first place.

Willpower doesn't come into play - ever. I find that really fascinating and liberating.

So, back to my post about denial and my need to exercise for fitness reasons and for weight reasons and, finally, so that I'm living what I believe and my children see me walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I'm still exercising daily. Yep, every day. I'm not going overboard and I'm not getting manic about it. I'm just taking care of myself and taking it one day at a time. Why? I believe it is necessary and that belief has led to a feeling of resolve and commitment that is easy to live with. No willpower necessary.

Resolve is the counterpoint to denial, whether it is in spending, housework, exercise, or dietary choices. Resolved is not pressured, fearing failure. Resolved is calm because to be resolved is to know you are doing the right thing, are on the right path, and your commitment is sound. Resolve makes things no longer negotiable. They just are.


Alicia said...

Awesome post, ERin!!! Very encouraging too!

They say if you do something for X amount of time, it will become habit. I guess that could be good or bad!

Beth in NC said...

This is a wonderful post and it makes me question how important things are to me as well. (I have to snicker at the possible response your sister might have. Ha.)

Jessica said...

I agree...great post~ we can all learn something from this....well @ least I can. :) Good for you, Erin.

DarcyLee said...

Amen! Great post, Erin, and so needed.

Anonymous said...

I've had a laundry DAY for each person around here since we moved into this house 14 years ago. Pretty much the same day, did move it around some when #1 went to college, but that was really just him and Hubby, whom I do and #1 does. And yet, if you ask anyone around here when is their laundry day, they can not tell you. Despite the fact that I remind them every week, bring down your laundry, tomorrow is your laundry day. If they bring it down, I will start it for them and they can finish it after school. If not they have to do it all after school. In the summer you are on your own. Now 14 years is long enough for it to be a habit, but it is not. Things we want to do may become habits, but things we don't want to do will never become habits. We have to stay resolved and on task or we will get off that bandwagon as quickly as we hopped on it. That is just my experience. With 5 people, we each have a laundry day. Sundays I do mine and Dad's sheets and Thursdays (old day for #1) I do any rugs, curtains, etc that need to be done around the house. Routine is what makes the world go round and it's our word of the month. Getting back into a routine and staying there.

Clark said...

Great post. I think that without really knowing it I have also made this switch. Working out everyday is just something I am doing. I do not give myself the option of not doing it so it is just a part of what I do every day.

Five Moms & A Blog said...

Yeah, I need to exercise today. Was having trouble with my asthma and so wasn't doing it. Now I need to get back on track again!

~ Nan

loveaphid said...

"Hi my name is Loveaphid and I have a Laundry Problem"
"Hi, Loveaphid."

Yes it is true I do the laundry dance, just as described by my sister... ummm thanks Erin for that. She is absolutely right, I hate doing laundry and find very little satisfaction in its accomplishment, since you never actually DO accomplish it. There is always more. In fact while you are doing laundry (unless you do your laundry naked, which here in New England it can be just a little too cold for) you are in the process of making more laundry. It is never ever complete. Its like Sisyphus and the rock. It really annoys me. And since there is no reason to tackle it every day or even every other day, I just don't and so it piles up. We have enough clothes and underwear to go quite a long time with out needing to do a load, AND we have a laundry room where we can just shut the door. Out of sight out of mind (a.k.a. denial) can be a beautiful thing. Until you open the door, then its Ugh! Intellectually I see the value in doing laundry more regularly. Having smaller loads makes it easier to complete it soup to nuts rather than loosing steam just before the laundry gets put away. But the reality is that doing it more often really does not add to the quality of my life, save for giving me back the day that I give up to do all the laundry at once.
On the flip side though, I would like to not have laundry always looming on the horizon. I am trying to find my way to that place where doing my laundry more frequently is in fact something that improves and adds value to my daily existence. Right now though,Hanging out on a river in Egypt (de - nile) works just fine for me.

loveaphid said...

p.s. - Nan,

I have asthma too, and it has been awful lately. So I feel your pain. I hate that feeling of burning lungs closing up. I am going back to my Dr. because my inhaler does not seem to be doing the trick. The fast acting one is fine, but you don't want to take that everyday.*sigh* if its not one thing, its another.